• The authors:
    Olga I. Borodkina
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 136-142
  • URL:
  • DOI:

Abstract. The professional vocational education of people with disabilities
is an important part of the disability policy. The effectiveness of disability
policy corresponds to the expectations and needs of disabled people, which appears to be a major problem in modern society. Social inclusion of people with disabilities is largely associated with vocational education, since education is one of the most effective social resources aimed at overcoming social exclusion and economic dependence. The system of vocational education of people with disabilities requires the development of new theoretical approaches that would meet the values of modern civil society. The purpose of this study is to consider the capability approach as a basis for the vocational education of persons with disabilities. The capability approach continues the methodology of the social model of disability. From the perspective of the social model, the important task is not only to improve the health condition of individuals, but also to overcome structural, institutional barriers which lead to social exclusion of people with special needs. The findings concerning capability approach are the follow. The capabilities approach is developed by Amartya Sen and Marta Nussbaum. It could be a useful framework or understanding disability. Sen’s concept assumes an interpretation of capabilities in terms of poverty and social inequality, and people with disabilities have always been considered as the most economically vulnerable groups. Following Sen’s approach, disability is manifested as a deprivation of capabilities or as a deprivation of functionings, while deprivation is understood as the result of the interaction of individual characteristics (including physical or mental impairment), the resources available to the individual and the environment (physical, social, economic, political). Disability correlates with a lack of instrumental freedoms, that are interdependent on the one hand, however they influence each other on the other hand; and education is one of manifestations of instrumental freedoms. The idea of connection between freedom, including the freedom of choice, and capabilities is a key point in Nussbaum’s concept of the capabilities approach. The approach of M. Nussbaum offers a slightly different look at capabilities, which is more philosophic. Nussbaum argues
that the problem of modern development, at both the international and
national level, is to allow people to live a full creative life, to provide the
grounds for full potential to exist in accordance with dignity equally
inherent to all people. She claims that the capabilities approach “takes each person as an end”. Nussbaum distinguishes two types of capabilities:
internal and combined capabilities. Internal capabilities are dynamic
characteristics of a person (intellectual, emotional capacities, health
conditions and so forth). Nussbaum defined combined capabilities as
internal capabilities together with social, economic, political conditions in
which a person can actually function .The key point of Nussbaum’s
approach is a set of central capabilities that should be supported for each
person, regardless of his state of health or other personal characteristics (for example, gender, and age). A very important aspect emphasized by
Nussbaum is that capabilities belong to individuals, but not groups. This
approach changes the focus of disability policy, because now an individual
with a disability is in the center, and not a group. Therefore, disability
policy should be aimed at supporting and creating fundamental or central (as
they are called by Nussbaum) capabilities for each person with disabilities.
The capability to get a professional education is one of the mechanisms for
people with disabilities to become independent and live the life they want.
The concept of capability itself is presumed to be, on the one hand,
individual abilities for education, and on the other hand, the existence of a
social infrastructure and social resources for education.
Keywords: capability approach, people with disabilities, professional

Olga I. Borodkina
Saint Petersburg University, Saint Petersburg, Russia,
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-0936-5757

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